So, you’ve evaluated your finances, thought about your lifestyle, and made the big decision to sell your home. Maybe you’re downsizing because the kids have finally left the nest, or you’ve gotten a job in a new city and need to relocate, or maybe you’ve just retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell. Luckily, for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.
1) Hire a Home Inspector
You’re probably thinking, wait, isn’t that the buyer’s responsibility? You’re not wrong. When you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will most likely request a home inspection of their own. So, why would you have one? First, if a home inspection turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it before entering into negotiations?
In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs that take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Having a home inspection is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what issues and repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, and then focus on the next task to sell your home fast.
Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers. As you may already be aware, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed these repairs, it is less likely that anything new will come up and impact your negotiation.
2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your House
After you receive a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home.
Understand Your Home’s Selling Points
First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you’ll want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your house again.
Enhance Your Outdoor Space
When you are selling your house, you want to find ways to make it stand out and what better way than having the most beautiful entrance and lawn on the block. You don’t necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers. Simple things like trimming your hedges and a freshly mowed lawn will go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop! If these improvements seem like too much to handle while you’re trying to prepare your home to sell, look into hiring a landscaper to assist.
Brighten Your Home
Simple ways to brighten your home include painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral.
3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell
Decluttering and prepping your house are steps you should make a priority. Renting storage units is becoming an increasingly popular method of decluttering one’s house before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential future owners can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow potential buyers to think about what they would hang on those walls. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer. They can help get your house in order, while also preparing you for a stress-free move.
4) Find a Real Estate Agent
Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options. You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests.
Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:
After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. It should include a timeline, from the pricing of your house and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.
5) How to Price Your House to Sell
Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home. You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is worth. However, you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior.
Another option is to conduct an appraisal. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.
Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in you’re area and they are priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.
6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home
Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it’s widely observed that houses with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.
Furthermore, 3D walking tours along with aerial photography that show a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies
include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. Just remember, the better you represent your house online, the faster it will sell.
7) List Your Home to Sell
Your real estate agent will list your home online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order for it to start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.
You may be wondering, when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends. It was determined that while spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above-asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above-asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.
Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails asking people to share your listing with others.
8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings
Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. If you don’t deem yourself a design-minded individual, consider hiring a professional home stager to help. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:
Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by this point. Now is the time to focus on cleaning up the clutter on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children, help them pick up their toys.
Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off buyers more than an unclean bathroom. That is also true for the rest of your house. Now more than ever is the time to wash your windows, windowsills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room. Then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
Highlight your floors: Floors are a key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about polishing them to really make them pop.
Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. They will also likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.
9) Have a Plan in Case your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough
You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold. If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.
10) Negotiate the Sale Price of Your Home
One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider, as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market, that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your house.
This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind.
11) Sign and Close
You and your agent have been working towards this moment. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!
Originally published by Redfin
GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets are receptacles that are designed to prevent lethal shock.
How do they work?
Outlets (receptacles) have three wires. Two of the wires conduct electrical current, the other is an equipment grounding wire. The first wire, usually black or red, brings the electricity to the outlet. This wire is usually referred to as the "hot" wire. The second wire returns the electricity to the electrical panel and ultimately the ground (earth), therefore it is technically the "grounded conductor", but it is commonly referred to as the "neutral" wire. The grounded conductor should always be white. If you touch the "hot" ungrounded wire and you're in contact with the ground you’ll complete the circuit and you’ll get a shock. The technical name for this event is a ”ground fault”, because current is getting back to the ground in a way that it shouldn’t - it’s using your body.
To prevent lethal shock through ground faults, special outlets called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, are required in homes. GFCIs constantly monitor the amount of electricity flowing through it. If a GFCI device detects a ground fault, it will shut off, or “interrupt” current within a fraction of a second. It won’t be fast enough to prevent a painful shock, but it’s enough to keep you from getting killed.
GFCI devices were first required near swimming pools in 1971. Today they’re required in areas where lethal shocks are most likely to happen, usually in areas that are wet and have good contact with the earth. These areas include the exterior, garages, kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, crawl spaces, and outlets within 6′ of laundry sinks, utility sinks, and wet bar sinks, among other places.
Hi, I'm Joe Brems, Master Inspector with U.S. Home Inspection. Congratulations! You’ve found the Quad Cities best Inspector! What makes me the best? you might ask. I am a Certified Master Inspector. A Master Inspector is the highest certification in the industry and is issued based on experience and education. I am one of only two Master Inspectors in our area. I have over 25 years of experience in residential construction - from building homes to Project Manager and General Contractor - so not only can I observe and identify the systems and components of the home, but I also understand how everything works together and how everything should be built. My experience allows me to explain how things should be repaired and maintained because I have built homes and repaired many of the issues that I find during an inspection with my own two hands. With me you’ll not only get an inspection you will also get an education, which I think is very important.
When I do your inspection, I am very thorough. Of course, every inspector should be, but my main priority is your safety. I’m looking for hazardous conditions, safety and fall hazards, and any issues that could lead to further deterioration that would cause safety hazards or cost you a lot of money to repair. While I’m inspecting your home, I’m looking through the eyes of a dad. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old at home and every home I go through I’m looking at as if my kids were going to live there.
I do love teaching and educating my clients on the different systems and components of the home and how everything works together, where the safety shut-offs are, and how to properly maintain the home. I think education and proper maintenance are the key to a safe home. I encourage all of my clients to accompany me through the inspection, especially first-time home buyers, or at the very least do a walk-around at the end of the inspection with me. You’ll learn a lot more that way than just looking at the report. I’m also willing to spend as much time as needed to go over everything. I only schedule one inspection per day so I’m not rushed to get to the next inspection after lunch like most inspectors do. My average inspection takes about four hours which is nearly double most others in the industry.
Finally, on top of my own effort I also provide a handful of services and items for free with every inspection. I include infrared thermal imaging at no additional cost. I also provide safety devices like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a fire extinguisher if needed. For first-time home buyers, I will give you your first home tool kit to make small repairs and help maintain your new home, if you like. Every Inspection will also include a home maintenance book and my The Safe Home e-book.
All of my inspections are backed by InterNachi’s buyback guarantee, so, if I miss any major defects on your home, they’ll buy your home back for the price you paid. I'm that confident in what I do!
So, bottom line, when it comes to hiring a Home Inspector it all comes down to the individual Inspector’s own qualifications, experience, and effort. When you’re making the biggest purchase of your life, you really can’t afford to hire second best.
I'm here for my clients before, during, and after the inspection. If you have any questions, call me anytime for anything. I want to be your home expert for life. For more information visit my website: https://www.ushomeinspection.expert/ or call or text 563-265-0175. I look forward to hearing from you!
Contrary to popular belief radon testing is not required for real estate transactions and not every home needs a radon test.
The first question to be asked is “Will I be affected by radon in THIS home?”
Radon enters a home from the soil and usually accumulates in the basement. Although radon is common in our area your health will only be affected from long-term exposure.
Will you be spending a significant amount of time in the basement? Is the basement finished into living space? Do you plan on finishing the basement? Is there a bedroom in the basement? If your responses are “no”, typically, you would not be affected by radon and shouldn’t be concerned.
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then you could be affected from elevated levels of radon. To see what I recommend and more info on radon visit my radon page.
Is your home built on a slab or crawlspace foundation? Many people think radon testing is not necessary for this type of construction because there isn’t a basement, however because the living area is in contact with the soil, or close to it with a crawlspace, radon could be present. I usually recommend long-term testing or purchasing a continuous radon monitor for this type of construction because the radon levels could vary dramatically according to environmental conditions.
Most home buyers are not educated about radon and heed the advice of others who also have minimal knowledge or misconceptions about radon and usually end up wasting their money on unnecessary testing.
As you can see from the map, high radon levels are common in our area. There really isn’t a “safe” level of radon - because it is radioactive. So, why are we testing if we know radon exist? Short-term testing is the EPA’s solution to facilitate negotiations during Real Estate transactions. However, they recommend following up a short-term test with a long-term test (minimum 90 days to 1 year) for accurate results. 2-3 day tests are not an accurate representation of the yearly average radon levels, which the EPA bases their recommendations on. Therefore, it is my opinion these tests are a waste of money and can actually be misleading. Additionally, there aren’t any regulations that require radon testing. Many home-buyers may not realize that they can ask the seller for credit or to install a radon removal system as part of the negotiations without testing. Funds could also be placed into an escrow account while a more accurate long-term test is done, if desired.
With the increase in online schools and lack of regulations we are seeing an increase in the number of new Home Inspectors entering (and leaving) our market. With so many choices out there you might be asking yourself: "How do I find the best Home Inspector?" I will give you a few tips on what to look for and how to choose the right Inspector for you.
"How much?" is usually the first question I get asked, but you should be asking about the Inspectors experience and qualifications. Because no two homes are the same, Home Inspections are priced according to different factors that I go over in a previous post. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't much regulation for Home Inspectors in our area. Currently Iowa doesn't require any licensing or certification. Illinois requires licensing, but the qualifications are minimal. They require Home Inspectors to pass a basic knowledge exam, pay yearly licensing fees, and take 6 hours of continuing education each year, but they do not require any industry-specific experience. Therefore, as you can see, an Inspectors experience is the most relevant qualification you should be looking for.
Home Inspectors come from many different backgrounds. You may be surprised to read that many don't have any relevant home construction experience or might only have experience in one specific trade (electrician, HVAC, sales, assembly, etc.) Look for someone who has had a previous career that requires knowledge in all areas of home construction, such as a General Contractor, Home Remodeler/Renovator, Construction Project Manager, or Structural Engineer. You should also look for an Inspector that has experience actually inspecting properties. Find an Inspector with at least three years in business working as a Home Inspector. Hands-on experience is going to be more valuable to you than any other qualification. An experienced Home Inspector will obviously have more knowledge from their years of education and experience, but will also have a better understanding of your home as a system and will be better able to communicate to you what is important.
Our occupation is a bit different than most in that Home Inspectors are usually hired without ever actually meeting their clients first. Don't be afraid to interview a potential Inspector and ask questions rather than just shopping for the cheapest price. Request a video call or meet in-person if you prefer. Most of us aren't old curmudgeons and would be happy to oblige. We do this job because we enjoy helping people. Ask "Why should I hire you?", "What is your background/experience?", "What is included with your standard Inspection?", "How long will my inspection take?" "Can I see a sample report?", "May I accompany you during the Inspection?", "Are kids welcome?", or anything else that is important to you.
Referrals are a good place to start when looking for a Home Inspector. Your Realtor might have a list of Inspectors they have worked with, or family, friends, and co-workers can be a good source. Remember to "trust, but verify". Do an online search and read the reviews. Most Realtors have your best interest in mind, but there are some who prefer easy or sometimes referred to as "soft" or"patty-cake" Inspectors , who may overlook some things they deem "minor" to facilitate an easy sale. Remember it is ultimately up to you to decide what is important to you when purchasing a home. Every homeowner has different skills, experiences, and qualifications when it comes to maintaining a home and what is "Minor" to one person could be "Major" to another. Look for an Inspector that will give you as much information as you need to make an informed decision when buying or selling your home. You also want an Inspector who can communicate that information to you in a way that is easy to understand and present it to you in a report that is easy to navigate and comprehend.
I hope this information helps to relieve a bit of the stress that comes with buying or selling a home and choosing a Home Inspector.
Contact me any time with any home-related questions even if you don't hire me as your Inspector.
Certified Master Inspector
"How much do you charge?" is normally the first question asked of a Home Inspector, but you should be asking about qualifications, experience, and what is included with the inspection. Nonetheless, here is a breakdown of what you need to know so you can anticipate what you should expect to pay for a home inspection:
Hi, I'm Joe Brems, your Quad Cities Home Expert. I will be posting helpful information, maintenance tips, and DIY instruction for homeowners and home buyers. Feel free to contact me anytime with home related questions or any topics you want me to cover here. I hope you find this helpful.